DIY cheesemaker Patricia ElliottAn obituary in The Washington Post caught my attention today.

When Patricia Elliott was in her late 60s, she began milking her sheep to make cheese. As she developed Everona Dairy, her artisanal cheese company, she became one of the leaders in the farmhouse cheese movement, according to a New York Times food writer.

How did this come about?

It all started when she got a border collie in 1992, the Post reports. Then she got 10 dairy sheep to keep the dog busy.

The sheep needed to produce something, she decided.

While running her family medical practice, the doctor plunged into the art and science of cheesemaking, going to Greece and Wisconsin to polish her cheesemaking skills. Her business now is home to a herd of more than 200 ewes that produce around 75 pounds of cheese a day.

Besides cheese, she made sheep-milk soap, tanned sheepskins, and baked crackers to sell with her cheeses. She also managed to train border collies.

Elliott saw patients and oversaw dairy operations until a few weeks before she passed away at 84.

I like her story for a lot of reasons. First, at an age when some can’t wait to retire and start doing… nothing, she not only kept her medical practice up and running, she started something entirely different—starting from zero.

She wasn’t afraid to learn something new at an advanced age.

And she got good at it. Her cheese won awards. One placed 10th at the World Cheese Championship Contest in 2010. This year, if Everona Dairy meets its target, it will produce 4 tons of cheese.

Elliott followed her interests without planning everything out at the beginning. Who could have known that getting one dog would lead to a life making tons of cheese?


For more: Check out The Washington Post article and Everona’s website.
Photo: Everona